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Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Comedy of Covers, Part Dix

Part Dix...that reminds me of when I worked offshore.  One of my co-workers heard my Mississippi accent and started calling me Dixie Cup.  The rest of them took a look at my scrawny 95-pound (at the time) self with my long black pony tail and heavy workboots and there was only one suitable nickname:  Olive Oyl.  I spent the summer of 1981 working seven-on-and-seven-off on a natural gas production platform very near the currently leaking Deepwater Horizon.  The death and destruction from that disaster just make me heartsick.

Ah, but the word "comedy" is in my title, so I should return to my stories of book cover development.  Onward...

The most difficult story for me to create an ebook cover for was "A Singularly Unsuitable Word."  The interesting thing about this story is that there is already an illustration in existence for it, which is unusual for a short story.  It originally appeared in an anthology called A Kudzu Christmas: Twelve Mysterious Tales, and the star writer recruited to anchor that collection (anthologies don't generally sell to publishers unless there's at least one name author and preferably three) was Daniel Wallace, who wrote the book from which the movie Big Fish was made.  Since he is also an artist, he did the cover art, and he did little line drawings to accompany each of our stories.  The drawing of a little girl in a nightgown that he did for my story was adorable but first, I don't own the rights, and second, you can't make a book cover from a little bitty black-and-white line drawing.  But here's the cover for Kudzu, just so you can see his work.

But I'm not Daniel Wallace.  What was I going to do with a Prohibition-era story about a little girl cornered in a Florida swamp by rumrunners, watching her sister be kidnapped? 

Well, there was a Model T involved in the story.  And I could hardly ignore the little girl, Lila.  So I combed the internet for public domain photos of swamps and old cars and little girls from a bygone time.  It doesn't have the graphic impact of my covers for "Starch" and "Wounded Earth" and "Mouse House" and "Offerings."  (See the archives for the past week for those stories.)  But a bold graphic statement would not speak of the 1920s.  So this is what I did.  If you have observations, for good or ill, let me know.  But I do like the photo of the little girl.  She is a very good stand-in for my little Lila, who is one of my children, just as much as any of my other characters, even though she's old enough to be my grandmother. 

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